Petrol price protestors in Britain are warning of renewed blockades at refineries unless the UK government cuts duty and taxes on fuel. Five years ago blockades that lasted one week caused shortages and panic buying and is estimated to have cost British business almost 1.5 billion euros. With the effects of Hurricane Katrina pushing up prices, a group called Fuel Lobby is threatening to start blockades next Wednesday.
They want a reduction in the taxes which account for two thirds of the cost of petrol in the UK. In some parts of the UK unleaded petrol has reached one pound a litre – that’s 1.48 euros – an increase of 87% in the last 10 years. The prices on both sides of the Atlantic shot up after Hurricane Katrina knocked out about 10% of the US’s oil refining capacity. Nine refineries shut down by Katrina are now working again, two more are due to go back on stream later this week.
The US Energy department said this week that petrol prices have increased by 66% from a year ago. One New York motorist said he is reconciled to that continuing, in a surging world economy: “There’s apparently a lot of demand from China and from India and that demand is going to increase. So maybe it will spike because of Katrina, but I don’t think prices are going to go down.”
Energy industry analysts agree. They say the era of really cheap petrol is over in the US and the soaring prices will have a long term effect on the economy and consumers.